Making the cut: How diamonds are grown

SINGAPORE - It takes years of searching, hours of labour and tonnes of energy to find, process and cut a diamond so that it is suitable for sale. But at IIa Technologies, they have reduced the process to just a few months.

How? They grow their own diamonds.

The company, which has opened a new plant in Jurong which is the world's largest diamond greenhouse, grows the purest and rarest type of diamonds for both the gem and jewellery industry.

How do they do it?


1. Diamond seeds

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These are essentially diamonds, but smaller, approximately 5 to 10mm. The seeds are put through multiple tests and are scrutinised for impurities and defects. Only the most appropriate seeds that suit the company's high benchmarks, such as clarity, pass on to the next stage.

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2. Growth chambers

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The diamond seeds are then placed into growth chambers, also known as greenhouses. The atmosphere within the chambers are set to mimic the conditions in which natural crystalisation happens. CH4 (methane) gas is introduced into the chamber, it is broken down and the carbon component of the gas rains down on the seeds, allowing them to grow. IIa Technologies scientists believe that these are the same conditions which would naturally occur within the earth to create diamonds.

3. The diamond grows

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Much like a plant, the diamond seed is then allowed to grow. This process takes approximately 8 to 12 weeks. A diamond created by the earth in a natural setting would take about the same amount of time to form.

4. Harvesting

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After the appropriate time, the formed diamonds are removed from the greenhouse, cut and polished. The average diamond grown at IIa Technologies are 1 to 1.5 carat diamonds.

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Watch the video below for more.

melheng@sph.com.sg